COVID-19 doubles risk of mental health and financial problems in older people

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Scientists from the University College London found that people over the age of 52 appear to be twice as likely to develop mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, alongside suffering from financial difficulties after contracting COVID-19.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and was conducted by Dr. Ellie Iob et al.

In the study, researchers used data from 5,146 adults between the ages of 52 and 74 to examine the immediate and longer-term impact of COVID-19 infection on the mental health, well-being, social interactions, and financial outcomes of older people.

They found that 49% of older adults with a probable COVID-19 infection had clinically significant depressive symptoms, compared with 22% of those without infection.

Meanwhile, 12% of people with probable infection were identified as having anxiety, compared with 6% of those without infection.

These adverse effects lasted for up to six months after the presumed start of an infection and appeared to worsen.

the prevalence of depression and anxiety among older people with probable infection was 72% and 13% respectively, compared with 33% and 7% in those without infection.

Such an increase in the prevalence of mental health problems during the first year of the pandemic might be due to further months of COVID-19 control measures and restrictions on personal freedom.

In addition, an estimated 40% of older people with probable COVID-19 infection experienced more financial difficulties in June and July 2020 than before the pandemic, compared with 20% of those without infection.

Feelings of loneliness were also twice as high in older people with probable infection than in those without.

This study shows that older adults with probable COVID-19 infection experienced higher levels of depression and anxiety, poorer quality of life, elevated feelings of loneliness, and greater financial difficulties compared with those without probable infection.

This was evident both in the acute phase of the infection and up to six months later.

These results suggest that the adverse psychosocial impact of COVID-19 infection is long-lasting and more broadly present across the population.

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